Cuadrilla confirmed this morning it has resumed hydraulic fracturing at its Preston New Road shale gas site near Blackpool.
The company appears to have been scooped to the news by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). It posted an online press statement at 10.47am. This restated the government’s position on shale gas exploration “as Cuadrilla resumed hydraulic fracturing (fracking) operations at its site in Preston New Road, Lancashire”.
Cuadrilla informed members of the Preston New Road community liaison group at 11.27am and published a press release at 11.42am. At the time of writing, DrillOrDrop understands that people living near the site had not been informed.
Cuadrilla’s press release said the company would fracture up to 45 stages of the second horizontal well at the site, known as PNR2.
The work was due to be completed by the end of November 2019, Cuadrilla said. Fracking would be followed by flow testing the well. Results were expected early in 2020, the company added.
Fracking the first horizontal well at Preston New Road, known as PNR1z, induced more than 50 small earth tremors, two of which were felt locally. DrillOrDrop tremor tracker
The company previously said the traffic light system, which regulates seismicity induced by fracking, would make UK shale gas commercially unviable. Cuadrilla said it stopped fracking prematurely four times on PNR1z because seismicity exceeded the threshold under the regulations of 0.5ML or above.
Today’s statement confirmed that fracking PNR2 would operate under the traffic light system.
Laura Hughes, Projects and Operations Director at Cuadrilla, said:
“We have unique experience and expertise of hydraulic fracturing in the UK from operations on our first well at Preston New Road.
“Whilst there may well be low levels of induced seismicity, local people should be reassured that any resulting ground motion will be far below anything that could cause harm or damage and, indeed, is likely to be much less than caused daily by other industries such as quarrying or construction or even heavy goods vehicles travelling on our roads.”
A spokesperson from Preston New Road Action Group said:
“Today is a worrying day for people living close to the PNR site. It seems as though all our concerns are being ignored as this industry is allowed to progress.
“We now wait for the earth tremors to start up again and wonder what damage they will be causing underground as well as at the surface. We fail to understand the need for damaging fossil fuel when we are fighting a climate change emergency”.
“Guinea pigs in dangerous experiment”
A spokesperson for Frack Free Lancashire said:
“Once again, the community is subjected to being guinea pigs for a dangerous fracking experiment. The last round of fracking resulted in 57 earthquakes and a variety of regulation breaches, with an unresolved well failure.
“With yesterday’s report that fracking has caused global methane levels to rise, impacting on public health, we urge the government to abandon this dangerous technology and focus on clean energy sources to mitigate the worst impacts of climate change.
“Fracking is a bridge to climate breakdown: it has no place in a sustainable society.”
Jamie Peters, campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said:
“Kick-starting an entire new fossil fuel industry when the impacts of climate breakdown are already ruining lives, including right here in the UK, doesn’t line up with the government’s claims to be a climate leader.
“Companies like Cuadrilla are turning a blind eye to the climate crisis and have been lobbying for earthquake safety limits to be relaxed. This is only after they’ve realised that fracking can’t be done without potentially dangerous effects underground.
“Fracking just isn’t part of the future if we are serious about avoiding climate breakdown. Instead of backing climate-wrecking fracking the government should ban it and support renewable energy and green jobs instead.”
“Most monitored oil and gas site in the world”
Ms Hughes, for Cuadrilla, added
“As we have often said Preston New Road is one of the most monitored oil and gas sites anywhere in the world. We have proven it is a well-run, entirely safe and environmentally responsible operation. We also know there is a reservoir of recoverable high quality natural gas beneath our feet that the UK needs if we are to reach Net Zero by 2050.
“The UK onshore shale exploration industry as a whole remains excited about the prospect of the Bowland Shale formation – estimated by the British Geologic Survey to contain some 1,300 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.”
- The BEIS statement repeated the government’s support for shale gas as a way of reducing imports, creating jobs and supporting the transition to net zero emissions. It said the UK had “world-leading regulations” that would make shale gas exploration safe and environmentally-responsible. It also referred to a scientific assessment of recent industry data. We understand this is the assessment announced in February and not a review of the traffic light system.